The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XXXIII)
I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.
This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.
I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:
Brian’s Song (1971)
Technically this is a TV movie, but it’s so iconic you have to list it. You can even make the case this belongs on the first list. People know about this — the movie that makes grown men cry. About the relationship between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo. James Caan and Billy Dee Williams star. Terrific film. You should consider it essential because of how referenced it is in the culture. It’s one of the greatest sports movies ever made.
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
Mike Nichols directs. Jack Nicholson stars. Along with Art Garfunkel, Candice Bergen, Rita Moreno, Carol Kane, and Ann-Margret (who probably should have won an Oscar for her performance here). We watch Nicholson and Garfunkel over 25 years, from college to middle age, and we see their relationship with different women over those years. It’s a great movie. One of the classics. If I were making a list of the top 1000 essential movies, I’d put this on there.
Duck, You Sucker (1971)
Sergio Leone’s final western. It’s no masterpiece like his previous four, but it’s really great. Lot of fun. The best is that the title was what he thought Americans said all the time. The movie is also known as A Fistful of Dynamite. James Coburn is an IRA explosives expert and Rod Steiger is a Mexican revolutionary. It’s a Mexican revolution western. Good stuff. How can you turn down a Sergio Leone western? Especially when there are only five of them.
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
The Hospital (1971)
Paddy Chayefsky wrote this movie and won an Oscar for it. (He also wrote Marty and Network and The Americanization of Emily.) Arthur Hiller directs. George C. Scott (nominated for this) stars. It’s kind of a horror comedy. He’s a doctor who is just a mess whose hospital is falling apart. Meanwhile, someone is going around, killing staff members. It’s a pretty dark satire. It’s not as well-known as other movies from this decade, but it’s just as essential.
Get Carter (1971)
This movie is the epitome of British cool crime. Michael Caine tries to find out what happened to his brother, who died in a car crash. It’s terrific. Really terrific. Almost a British Point Blank. Just see this. It’s essential, and is really good.
Jane Fonda won her first Oscar for this. She plays a prostitute who is the key to the identity of a killer. An executive is murdered and the only lead is a letter he wrote to Fonda. So Donald Sutherland is sent to investigate. It’s just a great 70s movie. Directed by Alan Pakula. It’s a mini-trilogy with The Parallax View and All the President’s Men. Pakula was really on the top of his game in the 70s (as were a lot of directors).
Le Mans (1971)
This is one of those movies that contains everything Colin loves — Formula One racing and Steve McQueen. It’s almost like a documentary on racing. Loads of racing, little dialogue, and if you’re into cars, you’re gonna love this.
Also check out Grand Prix with James Garner, another racing movie. I know a movie about racing is kind of like telling Americans about a great soccer movie, but it’s actually really well shot and edited, and like I said, if you’re into cars, this is straight porn for you.
Little Murders (1971)
Alan Arkin directed this. Constantly brought up as one of the great hidden gems of the 70s. A real dark comedy. A girl brings a boy to meet her family, set against the backdrop of a bunch of random shootings. It’s dark, I’ll warn you now. But it’s good.
Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)
I really loved this movie. It’s almost a Russian version of the British costume dramas of the 60s. Franklin Schaffner directs (his follow up to Patton). It’s about Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia (you know… the one whose family ended up getting that “portrait” painted). We follow the family through a bunch of personal and political stuff. There’s a big subplot with Alexandra being taken in by Rasputin, who says he can cure their son of hemophilia, and there’s all this really great stuff. Janet Suzman (rightfully) was nominated for her role here, and the movie was way more engaging than you’d think. I put this on just trying to get it over with and was riveted by the hour mark. It’s like all those other costume dramas. They’re just interesting.
Summer of ’42 (1971)
A real hidden gem of the 70s. A coming of age story. A teenage boy, rather than playing with his friends on vacation, gets a huge crush on a woman whose husband is off fighting in the war. This was a huge novel in the 70s and a really big film when it came out too. This is one of the classic coming-of-age films, among the ranks of American Graffiti, Stand by Me, even The Sandlot and The Kings of Summer. These all belong in that category. Don’t miss out on this one.
A brother and a sister are stranded in the Outback and have to survive. That’s pretty much the film. Nicolas Roeg directs and Jenny Agutter stars. (And man, did she look good in the 70s.) One of those movies that will show up on a lot of essential lists. It didn’t need to be on the first one, but you should see it. In terms of the stuff on this list, it’s more essential than at least half of everything else.
Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971)
I know no one remembers this. It’s almost a lost film. No one talks about this movie, and the only reason I even saw it was because it was on the Oscar Quest. Maybe you see this if you really love Dustin Hoffman (who doesn’t?) and want to see everything he ever made. Otherwise, this is a movie that I’m sure will never be seen by the amount of people it ought to. And for those who have read stuff I write on here, you know how often I pound the table about how great this movie is.
The entire film is a stream of consciousness. There is no plot, and it’s incredible. It starts with a slow zoom in from the sky down on the balcony of a penthouse apartment, where Dustin Hoffman is writing a suicide note. The whole thing is like five minutes long. It’s one of those opening sequences where either you’re all in or you just don’t get it. And the note slips out of his hand and he falls off the building. And the credits play as he falls in slow motion, almost like a live-action James Bond credit sequence. And instead of hitting the ground, he lands on the couch in his psychiatrist’s office. And it just spirals out of control from there. No plot, completely surreal and ridiculous, and I loved every second of this. The moment I was 100% in was the second time he sees his psychiatrist, who changes accents every time he talks. He went from a Freudian accent to a Jamaican one (it’s never explained, and doesn’t need to be), and then randomly he starts singing along to a Ray Charles song out of nowhere. I lost my shit. This was so funny to me. If you are capable of watching a movie with no plot and can go along with surreal narratives, you’ll love this one. Love, love, love this movie.
Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
This originally was on the first list for Colin with the 500 “essential” movies. Everyone knows this is essential, even if it isn’t the most entertaining of movies to see. And we ended up taking it off because about midway through, I got fed up with all the foreign stuff that was more of a slog to get through and wanted to lighten things up. So I took off stuff like this and The Rules of the Game and L’Atalante and put other things on there that I knew Colin would enjoy more. (Which is how stuff like Bad Day and Black Rock ended up on there, which I knew, while less “essential” than something like Aguirre, would be something he’d like more in the long run.) That aside, everyone knows this is essential, so I’m not even gonna tell you what it’s about. Any person who is really into film knows they need to see this at some point. You don’t need to rush into it, but it needs to be seen just so you can say you’ve seen it.
The Candidate (1972)
One of the most famous political films ever made. Robert Redford is running for senator and knows he has no chance at winning, so he’s able to do whatever he wants. He can get all his left-wing ideas out there, rather than trying to appeal to the masses. And we watch as the whole thing slowly gets corrupted and his policies get more middle of the road and don’t really address anything as he gets closer to actually being in the race. A scathing satire of what American politics actually is now. (My favorite tidbit from back in 2008 that no one ever really caught onto was that they asked Obama within three months of the election what his favorite movie was, and he said this one. Which has a lot of fucked up implications to it.) This is essential watching.
The Cowboys (1972)
What a unique western that also is forgotten now. The Shootist was John Wayne’s last western, and it’s a great film, but this could have been his last one and also been appropriate. John Wayne has to move a bunch of cattle, but all his guys leave to try to hit it big looking for gold. So he has to bring on a bunch of boys to do the job. An entire class of schoolboys. Because if he doesn’t, and he doesn’t get the cattle to where they need to go, he loses everything. So he brings on the kids and has to teach them how to do the job and ultimately become men. And of course some cattle rustlers are following them, waiting for the right time to strike. I don’t want to give too much away, but something happens in this movie that I just was not expecting, and it’s actually a pretty touching message. It’s one of those things — Colin will understand. The western is a genre where you make a statement without making a statement. You use the genre to reflect things that are going on now. Outlaw Josey Wales is about Vietnam. High Noon is about blacklisting, etc. When you watch this movie — it has one of those moments, which is why I felt that it actually would have made a fitting final western from Wayne. Highly underrated.
The Getaway (1972)
Sam Peckinpah, Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw. No one looked better than Ali MacGraw during the early 70s. This movie is fun, and sexy, and classic. A great film.
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
This is the third movie on this section of the list that got a shitty American remake in either the 90s or 2000s. Don’t watch those. Watch the originals. This is about a man who, while on his honeymoon, meets another woman and realizes he made a huge mistake by marrying his wife. And all the comedy comes from three places: him being married (Jeannie Berlin plays his wife and is hysterical in this), him not knowing if the girl feels the same way, and her father (Eddie Albert, who is also great here and also got nominated along with Berlin), who wants him to go away and hates his guts. Hilarious movie. Great 70s comedy. Neil Simon wrote the script and Elaine May directs.
The Hot Rock (1972)
What a cool heist film. Robert Redford and George Segal. Peter Yates directs. The two of them try to steal a diamond from a museum. And the joke of the movie is, every time they go to steal it, something goes wrong, and they have to keep stealing it again and again. Great movie. Lot of fun.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Syndey Pollack. Robert Redford. Redford plays a mountain man, who wants to live alone in the wilderness and be a fur trapper. And we watch him on his travels. It’s a much better film than you’d think. Trust the director and star.
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